Love Rat

Posted in Audio by - May 21, 2018
Love Rat

Released October 2017
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

As the official continuation of Torchwood picking up in the aftermath of Miracle Day and crafted with ideas from Russell T Davies, Aliens Among Us carries a certain responsibility and expectation beyond even what Big Finish’s usual monthly range and special box sets do. Fortunately, the first set of four stories proved that the minds and talent at Big Finish are more than up to the challenge of creating a new and dangerous world in which a new iteration of Torchwood can function, deftly introducing several immediately intriguing plotlines and expertly setting a high standard and sense of anticipation for what is yet to come.

Beginning the second set of four stories is ‘Love Rat’ by Christopher Cooper which promptly sees Jack die in a surprisingly risqué and graphic scene and later waking up in the morgue with an insatiable lust even more profound than usual. When Sergeant Andy Davidson calls in Torchwood to investigate a series of dead bodies that have no reason to be dead, this lust proves to be profoundly ill-timed and the cause of dissent and regret within the team’s ranks as Jack gets together with both Tyler and Gwen in short order before learning of the contagious pathogen affecting limbic systems and sex drives that he has been carrying and spreading since dying. Of course, the Gwen that Jack sees is still the alien being that has taken over Gwen’s body while her original consciousness remains trapped in her own mind to witness events but not interact, and the internal monologue that Eve Myles delivers as she sees her host give in to Jack’s advances is profoundly effective. Torchwood has dabbled with Gwen having an affair previously, but the use of retcon meant that the fallout of this was never fully explored; given Rhys’s continued jealousy of Jack after all of this time, the potential drama resulting from this sequence could be immense, especially since Rhys is already beginning to see his marriage fall apart because of what he assumes to be the pressures and responsibilities of Torchwood finally catching up to Gwen. Alexandria Riley continues to do superb work as this not-Gwen, believably capturing Gwen’s essence while always hinting that a subtle something is not quite right.

Surprisingly, the alien threat is dealt with incredibly easily by Torchwood standards and almost becomes an afterthought after those few tense scenes, but the purely human emotion and desire at the root of its spread comes to life as a much more nuanced threat than a similar idea on television and instantly puts both humans and Sorvix in danger because of more experimental desires. This rather neatly ties in with Ro-Jedda who is still using Tyler to glean information about Torchwood but who is becoming increasingly disillusioned with his usefulness given the paltry returns, and Rachel Atkins’s mysteriously malevolent character must become an unwitting help to those she is looking to best. Rather than the plot, though, ‘Love Rat’ instead focuses on its characters in emotionally heightened circumstances and mines plenty of comedy from the hypersexualized activity of Captain Jack that John Barrowman play so immensely well. This is Christopher Cooper’s first Torchwood story for Big Finish, and he blends the familiar tone and adult-oriented themes of the early televised episodes with the new cast and alien menace well, not necessarily advancing the overall narrative in any meaningful fashion but providing a suitably engaging reintroduction to these characters and featuring a couple of key moments that should pay big dividends as the series progresses in what is a confident and polished but ultimately more of a filler episode overall.

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